It was the final game of the final weekend of the regular season in the Northwest Premier League. The Olympic Force Women were going to take on NCW Alliance and if the Force could win, they would head to the playoffs having won 3 of their final 4 games...unfortunately, the story went a little differently.
The Force women displayed more offense in this game than they had in any 2 of their previous 9 games combined. They moved the ball well. They held possession, they created chances and they took shots. Unfortunately, those shots couldn't find the back of the net. The combination of Liz Oba, Megan Beisley and Abby Olson in the second half tore through the Alliance defense like scissors through wrapping paper. Beautiful through ball after through ball, splitting the defense, going over the top, even a little tiki taka on two occasions and they were in on goal.
Every shot was either just wide or over or crushed at the keeper. It felt like there was a curse on the Penalty Box. Everything looked good on the rest of the 85% of the field but when it came to that penalty box, it just didn't work out. Even still, the machine that is "MamaLO", Lauren Kruzner and the Force defense kept them in it and we went to the half tied 0-0.
Just 8 minutes into the second half, Alliance forward Michkiosky managed to dip and dive her way into the box to score from close range. The score was 1-0 and it seemed daunting due to the difficulty the Lady Force were having in front of goal. The lead would only last 6 minutes however...
Last year, K-Lee Haynes played every minute of every game at center back for the Olympic Force. This was a feat that was unmatched by anyone else in either the NWPL or the EPLWA last season. In September of last year, Haynes tore her ACL and had reconstructive surgery. She finally made her way back onto the field for the first time vs Washington Timbers 3 weeks ago and was the one player Coach Jason Jarrett had on the bench for this game. In the 59th minute, having started the second half, K-Lee Haynes took the hardest shot she has taken since the end of the NWPL season last year. 35 yards out and only a few feet from the touchline, Haynes noticed the Alliance keeper off her line and gave it a go. A little more loft than she might have liked, the flight was true however and ducked just under the crossbar and out of the keeper's reach to level the game. The goal and her defensive contributions earned her the Cervesa Modelo Woman of the Match.
It looked like that was how it was going to end. The Force had many more chances over the next 30 minutes but still couldn't get the goals to drop in for them. This left the door open for Alliance who would score again in the final minute to get their first win of the season.
At the end of the day, the lady Force were disappointed, but they played their hearts out. They missed the playoffs by just a couple points and they can look back to the season and see where they could have earned those points. What is good about this season? That's easy. The Force defense is arguably one of the best in the league, they finish tied for 4th in goals against which is really good considering their goals for output was next to last. Next year they will have Haynes back and fit for the season. They have found new members to add to their core group of players. Oh, and they are always getting better. The team that started with 3 losses and a draw in their first 4 games, got 2 wins and 2 losses out of their last 4 games and they finish the season on 8 points in ten games vs the 5 in 12 they had a year ago.
The offseason will be too long but the ladies are already working towards next summer. This season started a desire for more and they are working towards next year already.